The Odyssey

The Subtle Temptation of Nausikaa

The character of Nausikaa is somewhat of an anomaly within The Odyssey. Among women, she is a wholly developed character. Though such depth initially engages Odysseus, it becomes the force that propels him to his ultimate homecoming.

A remarkable aspect of Nausikaa is the completeness of her character. She leaves the impression of a young woman self-possessed and poised. She exudes rationality above all other traits, displayed especially when she proves to be one of the sole characters of the text not taken in by Odysseus' flattery; it is only after Athene "gilded with grace his head and his shoulders" (VI, 235) that Nausikaa's interest is piqued. She admits "A while ago he seemed an unpromising man to me" (VI, 242). Her resistance of Odysseus' charm is unprecedented, and proves both her sophistication and level-headedness.

Nausikaa also radiates confidence. Upon her initial encounter with Odysseus, she is the only woman who stands her ground, later chastising her maidservants for running in fear: "Stand fast, girls. Where are you flying, just because you have looked on a man?" (VI, 199-200) Such courage is doubtless the product of the city itself, which values boldness above all else:...

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